PLAINVIEW – Dr. Estelle Owens sat quietly in her office listening to a voice on the other end of the phone beg and plead for her to agree to the proposition they had just outlined for her. The begging would prove to be unnecessary, however.
“They evidently thought I was trying to find a tactful way to say no,” Owens explained. “I was thrilled to bits. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t think of anything to say so I sat there for about 10 minutes listening to him beg and plead.”
Alan LaFevre, archivist for the Texas Baptist Historical Collection, had just outlined a deal that would send Owens, professor of history and chairperson for the Division of Social Sciences at Wayland Baptist University, to Europe for a two-week tour. The Baptist General Convention of Texas will take 400 Baptists to the Baptist World Alliance Centenary Congress in Birmingham, England, on July 27. The BGCT group will spend four days with the BWA, then head out on a tour of significant Baptist historical sites in Europe.
LaFevre told Owens that the plan was the divide the group up into 10 tour busses with 40 passengers on each bus. They also want a historian to travel with each group, sharing knowledge and information about the historical sites.
Owens jumped at the opportunity.
“They are putting the curriculum together, so I don’t even have to do that,” Owens said. “They want me to share information about all of these Baptist sites and significant Baptist places, delivered with ‘flair and panache.’ I said I’d work on that.”
Anyone who has taken a history class with Dr. Owens knows that delivering information with ‘flair and panache’ is the only way she knows how to do it.
Owens said this is going to be a good learning experience for her, not only in getting acquainted with the other nine historians, but also in learning more about Baptist history. Although she doesn’t have to put together her own curriculum for the trip, Dr. Owens has already started researching Baptist history in Europe.
“I started doing it because I don’t want to look stupid,” she joked. “Someone may ask about Charles Spurgeon and what he said when he stood on a certain street corner in London. I don’t know that yet, but I will.”
The BGCT-sponsored trip will come on the heels of a study trip to Europe and Ireland that is being sponsored by Wayland’s history and English departments. Owens will take part in the study trip as well. The Wayland-sponsored trip will take place June 28-July 11. The Baptist Heritage Tour will begin in late July. Participants have four departure dates to choose from.
“I will have been home for about a week and a half from our tour, then I will go on this one,” Owens said. “If I could afford it, I would just stay and dig up dead relatives or something.”
Both the Wayland study tour and the Baptist Heritage Tour are open to anyone interested. The Baptist Heritage Tour costs $2,999 per person. For more information, contact the Texas Baptist Historical Collection at 972-331-2235.
Anyone interested in finding out more information about the Wayland study tour may contact Dr. Arch Mayfield at 806-291-1100 or Dr. Niler Pyeatt at 806-291-1175.